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It's the little ones that catch you out!

It's the little ones that catch you out!


Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:14 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Creag Liath

Date walked: 15/08/2020

Distance: 11.5 km

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Couldn't do this walk now. It was back in those wonderfully relaxed days of summer when 15 could meet up outside from 5 different households! Back then we assumed it was going to get better. Little did we know this was as good as it was going to get. :?

We thought it would be good to have a church family walk with the kids before the schools went back. We'd not been able to meet indoors since March and apart from a walk up Meall a' Bhuachaille in July hadn't been together at all, if you don't count meeting by Zoom, that is.

A hill I thought might fit the bill was this little Graham in Glen Banchor and once again I'm indebted to Black Panther for her detailed description, although there was nothing grey or snowy about the day we did it. Quite the reverse in fact.

In all my efforts to know exactly who was coming and providing directions, times-to-be-there and list of things-to-bring I wasn't in the right zone for myself and after advising others to have it, forgot to bring midge repellent. Nor, given the forecast, did I take enough liquid, given I had the dog with me and the (admittedly unforeseen) scenario of thirsty kids around. There's not a smilie for extreme thirst or I'd use one here. :-P

We arrived in reasonably good time, but already the parking area was almost full. Managed to find space but it only got worse after that with folk parking badly which is probably what contributed to an unfortunate incident later. More of that anon.

As planned, Pete walked the first part with us and turned back when he'd had enough, to go and do a survey of Newtonmore coffee shops and read his book. More of that anon as well.

The lack of any photos from the start of the walk is due to the mist being down. Just before we reached the right turn up Gleann Fionndrigh the track went through a bunch of cattle, standing and lying around in nonchalant fashion, as cattle do. I never used to be nervous of cattle and have never had a scary experience, but aware of potential danger when calves are present I put Keira on the lead and we all took a detour off the track, giving them a respectful berth. They hardly gave us a glance and went on doing what cows do and by the time we returned later in the day were off to pastures new. :angel:

As we gained height the mist began to clear revealing a beautiful blue sky, a portent of good things to come!

Mist clearing
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Posing by the heather
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Sweet smell of heather filling the still air
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With all good things there comes a down side. There was no breeze and the midge presence increased to a very annoying level so we had an emergency stop to apply Smidge and sun screen, don midge nets (if we had them) and have a drink. I do possess a midge net and Smidge but both were in the drawer at home and not in my rucksack where they should have been. :roll:

Emergency pit stop
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Not long after that we followed the path down from the track to cross the shoogly bridge, which we did carefully, one by one. No high jinks here. :angel:

Descent to bridge
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As the path climbed from the bridge, the younger of my two grandsons who were with me must have noticed the steep rise looming in the direction we were heading and observed that he would quite like to turn round and head back to the car now. Being in loco parentis and also committed to this walk in it's entirety I said "Sorry but you don't have that option. You'll be fine." I'm not sure if that would have been accepted without question had I been the parent, but as a grandparent I seemed to get away with it on the unspoken grounds that "if an old wifie like me can do it you'll have no problem at all". It should be added that the same lad managed the pathless ascent better than I did and was running races with the other kids once they reached the top! :thumbup:

To distract him from any lurking disappointment at my failure to accompany him back to the car I suggested a kids' photo shoot on an obliging large rock, which seemed to do the trick in raising overall morale. The midges were doing their relentless best to do what they do, a misery these kids were coping with better than the adults to be honest. :o

Kids on the rock (same rock that appears in one of Black Panther's photos)
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The path continued into a boggy area as we started to look left for any sign of a path up the steep heathery side of Creag Liath. Maybe we didn't go far enough but when the path began to descend we decided just to go for it, choosing a likely line as we went. To begin with all was well and I pointed out to the kids the route Donnie Campbell (whom they all know) would have taken just north of us a few days earlier.

Rolling hills
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Carn Dearg
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Geal Charn, domelike top of A'Chailleach
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But things started to become unstuck. We were out of the breeze, it was very warm and I didn't have any defence against an army that was hungry for blood. It was my worst midge experience for years and added to that I was sweating profusely and feeling sick.

Chunyan took the next pic. No idea what's happening but it looks like I'm bowing in a gesture of humble allegiance. Or more likely about to take my mini rucksack off and access my water bottle as I hadn't brought my platypus (as it doesn't fit easily in mini rucksack) on this very warm day on this very little hill. :roll:

Struggling
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I said to the others to go on and sat for a minute with fleece over head, swigging water and trying to down a cereal bar which normally I'd enjoy but this time made me want to gag. :sick:

The brief stop seemed to help and I got going again with fleece draped over head and made it to the top of the slope to a level grassy area where the others were already seated in family groups having snacks or running races and all enjoying the breeze which had a magical effect on all but the most resilient midge. It was like reaching an oasis and I immediately felt better, with no recurrence of that awful feeling for the rest of the walk.

Socially distanced snack stop
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It's not often you see young kids sitting looking at a view, so this was a special moment captured by Chunyan, one of the mums.

Surveying the track they had walked up (Chunyan's photo)
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From there it was an easy walk to Creag Liath's summit where we had a leisurely lunch, chatting, eating and enjoying the view over to Glen Banchor and Creag Liath's twin brother, Creag Dubh.

Creag Liath summit
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Summit kids and dog
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During lunch two of the younger children (who as under 12s didn't have to socially distance) sat beside me to watch Keira having a drink in a plastic tub. They said they were thirsty and as I had in addition to the dog's water a reserve bottle I'd not started using I gave them both a drink in their plastic cups. I think anyone would have done the same but this meant that when my first bottle ran out I'd no reserve. And it was very warm that day.

We decided to follow the ridge along before starting the descent towards the river. It was great just taking my time watching the kids streaking off at speed with parents in hot pursuit. :wink:

Heading along the ridge
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Creag Dubh across Glen Banchor on right
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Why you so slow?
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A carpet of heather
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If there is a path down we didn't find it and I was most impressed with the younger kids stepping through (in their case) thigh high heather, as if this is all normal behaviour on a very hot day. Well done those kids! They had their reward to come! :clap:

Pathless descent towards corner of plantation
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Regrouping at this point or inside the fence checking the trees!
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From the plantation we headed straight for the river. In the kids' case literally. But when I saw there were sheep across the river I put Keira on the lead and headed towards the bridge at Glenballoch. I assumed the kids would want to paddle but I wanted to get back to the car as I knew Pete had been waiting there for an hour already.

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Heading for the Allt Fionndrigh
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After leaving us Pete had returned to the car and driven to Newtonmore where he found a coffee shop and had a latte with a fruit scone and jam which he said was very good. The cafe is called The Wild Flour. I like a nice pun so here's an appreciative shout out for The Wild Flour. :thumbup:

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After staying there for as long as he felt appropriate Pete drove back to the Glen Banchor rough car park to settle down and read his book. But soon afterwards a car arrived that couldn't find a space and while trying to turn to get out of there struck a rock, the impact causing enough damage to the engine to put the car out of action. The driver, who had just driven up from Manchester, phoned the AA and Pete used 'Whatthreewords' to give them his GPS position. He then drove the driver, his wife and family to their accommodation in Newtonmore before bringing the driver back to wait for the AA. :?

When the time felt about right Pete set off walking to meet me returning along the track with Keira. I felt bad she'd missed out on the frolics in the river, which she'd have loved, but I was torn knowing that Pete was waiting. There was a fence between the track and the River Calder but as soon as I saw a muddy pool at the side of the track I let her lie down in it and stay there for a good 5 minutes. The best way to cool an overheated dog is get their chest into water, which they seem to instinctively know. My old dog Jack was always looking for muddy pools to steep himself in.

Once back at the car I downed all the water I could find and was still thirsty. But we had to wait for the grandsons who turned up 20 minutes later, after what sounded like the highlight of the day paddling in the river - adults as well! :D

On the way home I donned a mask and nipped into the Newtonmore Co-op for a bottle of cold drink and a selection of ice creams and lollies which we and the grandsons dispatched very quickly, then a peaceful drive home. I drank loads that evening but by the next morning had a niggling suspicion I'd developed a UTI, which I don't think can be caused by deyhydration, but it wouldn't have helped. I hung on until the next day when the symptoms were worse and ended up on a course of antibiotics for the next 7 days. :o

The moral of this tale is don't go out to climb an inoccuous little Graham in high summer without your usual hill stuff like midge repellent and enough liquid for you and your dog and anyone else in your group who might not have enough. I hope I remember this for the next time.... but I'm not banking on it! :lol:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby shredder » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:42 am

Good to see the young ones out enjoying the hills! :clap:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby Sgurr » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:33 am

🥵. Is this the one you mean? Lovely walk and great to get so many together. As far as we can see Xmas is cancelled unless they change the rules as there will be 5 at daughters (unless her eldest would have to quarantine from Belgium) and 2 from us which is greater than 6.
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Fri Oct 02, 2020 8:13 pm

Enjoyed that - I really felt for your youngest grandson - I feel like that at least once in every walk - I've just learnt to say nothing since I'm usually the one who committed us to the walk :oops: :oops:

As for that Saturday in August, I've come to the conclusion it was the 'Clearances of 2020 - mijstyle' - we were in the Cairngorms and the midges were certainly clearing the humans from the area - fast :shock: :shock: :lol: :lol:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby Anne C » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:06 am

Heat, midges, the extra effort of pathless terrain and the added stress of responsibility - no wonder you felt exhausted (and ended up not well :( :( Always enjoy reading your reports - really felt for you on this one. Nice to see young folk out on the hill too but yes , they can be tricky to manage!
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:33 pm

Nothing worse than feeling bad while our on a walk especially on a hot day so well done for completing the hill.

I seem to be doing the same hills as you only a few weeks later so thanks for letting me know where I'm going next :lol:

And as for cattle I've had two really bad experiences with them and whilst I don't fear them I certainly give them more respect than I used to.
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby dogplodder » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:49 am

shredder wrote:Good to see the young ones out enjoying the hills! :clap:


I agree. :D
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby dogplodder » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:52 am

Sgurr wrote:🥵. Is this the one you mean? Lovely walk and great to get so many together. As far as we can see Xmas is cancelled unless they change the rules as there will be 5 at daughters (unless her eldest would have to quarantine from Belgium) and 2 from us which is greater than 6.


I've not got that one in my list!

Christmas dinner al fresco? 8)
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby dogplodder » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:29 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Enjoyed that - I really felt for your youngest grandson - I feel like that at least once in every walk - I've just learnt to say nothing since I'm usually the one who committed us to the walk :oops: :oops:

As for that Saturday in August, I've come to the conclusion it was the 'Clearances of 2020 - mijstyle' - we were in the Cairngorms and the midges were certainly clearing the humans from the area - fast :shock: :shock: :lol: :lol:


Midges can be torture. I gained a greater respect for Charles Edward Stuart after reading he lay undetected in heather surrounded by Redcoats searching for him, for two long days, as midges did their worst. :twisted:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby dogplodder » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:42 pm

Anne C wrote:Heat, midges, the extra effort of pathless terrain and the added stress of responsibility - no wonder you felt exhausted (and ended up not well :( :( Always enjoy reading your reports - really felt for you on this one. Nice to see young folk out on the hill too but yes , they can be tricky to manage!


Thanks Anne. Looking back on it I wonder if I was going down with something that day which would explain how I felt on the ascent. But no regrets at going.... which might suggest a fairly serious hill addiction? :crazy:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby dogplodder » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:50 pm

Gordie12 wrote:
I seem to be doing the same hills as you only a few weeks later so thanks for letting me know where I'm going next :lol:



If this is the case you've a treat in store. Sgurr Ban in Fisherfield and Beinn a' Bheithir. Both great days but I'm away behind in writing them up. Have to be in the mood, which usually I'm not. :shifty:
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Re: It's the little ones that catch you out!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:18 pm

dogplodder wrote:
Midges can be torture. I gained a greater respect for Charles Edward Stuart after reading he lay undetected in heather surrounded by Redcoats searching for him, for two long days, as midges did their worst. :twisted:


:lol: :lol: :lol: They were made of sterner stuff in those days :lol: :lol: :lol:
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